While newer laptops and electronic devices are wifi-ready, some still need an adapter to recognize these signals. And now that wifi hotspots or access points are as ubiquitous as lamp posts, it’s no wonder that wireless network cards are a hit among many gadget owners.
Call them WLAN cards, wireless internet adapters or wireless internet cards, the best thing about them is that they are quite accessible and easy to use. Most electronic shops have them at very reasonable prices and they seldom involve complicated installation processes. Even if they are subjected to high operational temperatures, they’re quite heat tolerant, as well, which is why users need not worry about them melting. Those are characteristics you should look for in the first place, of course, but they're others:
Choosing your Wireless Network Card
Consider the different types of wireless network cards
Since the wireless network cards can connect to your laptop through different slots, you may decide to choose a specific type of wireless network card for it. Here it is important that you check for compatibility. While we are talking wireless here, some of the wireless network cards can still connect through Ethernet. However, you may want to look at the wireless network cards that can connect to the PCI, Mini-PCI or PCMCIA slots. If you want to make life really easy, consider those wireless network cards that can connect through the USB port or in the form of a compact flash drive.
The speed of the wireless network cards needs to be considered
Since you will be accessing the internet with your wireless network card, it is important to assess the kind of speed that the card supports. It is extremely frustrating if your wireless network card doesn’t support the full speed of the internet.
There are essentially three speeds that wireless network cards can support – 11Mbps, 54Mbps and 300 to 450 Mbps. For watching a movie online without any trouble, pick the highest speed. If it is just about browsing, 11 or 54Mbps will do just well.
Search dual antennas for longer range
Range is another important element to consider when buying wireless network cards. If your wireless network card doesn’t support proper range, you don’t really feel that you are using WiFi internet. The different models of wireless network cards can support distances ranging between 50 feet and 175 feet and you should make a decision here. Those wireless network cards that support a range of 175 feet can be typically identified with their dual antennas.
Choose wireless network cards with appropriate security protocols
Security too has to be considered when you plan to buy one of the wireless network cards. The most secure wireless encryption is provided by the WPA2 protocol. If you are prone to using the internet for sending and receiving sensitive data, then this is the security protocol you should consider. If you need less security (meaning paying less money), then you have the option of choosing between the WEP and WPA protocols.
A few good wireless network cards according to your needs
USB adapters are considered to be the most convenient wireless network cards and they let you connect to the internet anywhere. You have wide range of choices in this segment. Some of the top USB wireless network cards are Asus USB-N53 (photo 1), D-Link DWA-182, Netgear AC1200 WiFi USB 3.0 adapter and Linksys AE2500.
If you require a longer range of internet connectivity through your wireless network card, it is best to opt for a card with dual antenna. These wireless network cards allow you to sit in one room and access the internet modem that is situated in another room. Consider products like Asus 802.11ac dual-band Wireless-AC1300 PCI-E adapter, TP-LINK TL-WN851ND, NETIS WF2190 AC1200 Wireless High Gain USB 3.0 Adapter with Dual 5dBi Antenna & USB Cradle Extension or Rosewill RNX-N600PCE Dual Band Wireless N600 Wi-Fi Adapter (photo 2) and you should never have an issue with the signal strength.
If you don’t require that long a range, opt for a money saving wireless network card that supports smaller ranges. These cards should be less expensive too. Some of the top products in this category are TP-LINK TL-WN722NC, Alfa AWUS036NH 2000mW 2W 802 11g N High Gain USB Wireless G N Long Range WiFi Network Adapter With 5dBi Screw On Swivel Rubber Antenna, Amped Wireless-N USB Adapter UA600 (photo 3) and Rosewill RNX-N180UBE.